In 2018, the County and City of Denver received the GFOA Award for Excellence for exemplary use of GFOA's Best Practice in Communicating Capital Improvement Strategies.
Denver is the Colorado state capital and most populated municipality in the state with a population over 700,000.
Periodically, the City and County of Denver authorizes General Obligation (GO) Bonds to restore, replace, and expand infrastructure and capital assets across the city. In the fall of 2016 Denver started the Elevate Denver GO Bond project by first identifying the infrastructure projects that residents were most interested in seeing constructed or addressed. Denver began the most robust public engagement processes in the city's history.
The GO bond team organized six stakeholder committees, comprised of over 60 diverse community leaders, to help the city review proposals and make final recommendations to the Mayor. The committees held over 50 meetings totaling 90 total hours over the course of several months. Each meeting was open to the public which allowed for the public to continue to make their voices heard on specific projects. Meeting agendas, minutes, and materials were posted on the city’s website to transparently demonstrate each step of the process. Committees used guiding principles such as project readiness, geographic diversity, and key equity indicators to help them rank the projects. Equity was a significant guiding principle that was carried throughout the process to ensure the proposed bond package balanced social, economic, health and geographic considerations.
Ultimately, the city’s process resulted in the overwhelming approval of a $937M bond package by Denver voters in November 2017. The Elevate Denver Bond Program includes over 460 projects, with more than half focused on fixing and repairing existing infrastructure and the remainder dedicated to upgrades and new infrastructure across the city. The investments will include improvements to roads and bridges, multimodal travel choices, parks, playgrounds and recreation centers, police and fire stations, as well as the enhancement of the city’s libraries, cultural centers, and Denver Health Medical Center. The proposed bond package was designed to retain current tax rates, while saving taxpayer dollars by repairing infrastructure before it deteriorates and providing new facilities for the growth of the city.